Tory MP says delivering manifesto will be 'challenging'
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While the new Prime Minister appears to have brought a sense of unity to the Conservative Party after months of infighting and reversals on manifesto pledges, Tory MP David Simmonds has claimed any further U-turns would be in the public interest and were merely a sign of reacting to recent events. On Wednesday, Downing Street refused to comment on the possibility the pensions triple lock system could be scrapped in the coming weeks, sparking fears that stability in Government could be short lived and vulnerable Britons left to fend for themselves during a crippling cost of living crisis.
But Mr Simmons said the ability to “deliver promises against the backdrop” of the war in Ukraine and the fallout from the pandemic was “challenging”, adding that the British public were “intelligent” and “understood” this.
Asked if he believed party unity would hold if manifesto pledges, such as the promise to put in place the triple lock system for state pensions, were broken, Mr Simmonds said: “Yes, I think it will.
“Certainly, I think the mood among Conservative Members of Parliament is very united and very clear at the moment.
“When we entered into the 2019 election, we then embarked on a process where we have seen huge global upheaval, caused initially by the pandemic, which has cost the UK government and governments around the world vast amounts of borrowing, which we are still carrying, to support people’s jobs, to support businesses and keep the economy going.
“That was then swiftly followed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has pushed up global energy prices massively and put enormous pressure on the economy.
“And voters are intelligent, they understand this, they see it on the news every night.
“They engage with and they recognise that delivering promises against that backdrop is sometimes going to be challenging.
“Governments of all parties, throughout history, have had to change their manifesto promises in the light of events that have happened.”
After several major U-turns during Liz Truss’ 44-day premiership, opposition politicians and members of the British public have expressed concern that further policy reversals could take place under Mr Sunak.
The new Prime Minister on Wednesday refused to commit to the triple-lock on state pensions after Liz Truss promised to stand by it, reigniting those fears.
As Mr Sunak and Mr Hunt complete their review in time for a budget announcement on November 17, Downing Street was refusing to confirm it will be upholding key pledges on the triple lock on state pensions.
Just last week, Ms Truss insisted she was “completely committed” to the manifesto pledge on pensions after facing a backlash when No10 suggested it may be scrapped.
But on Wednesday, Mr Sunak’s press secretary refused to “comment ahead of any fiscal statements or budgets” as she declined to say whether payments will increase in April in line with inflation, at more than 10 percent.
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The Prime Minister’s press secretary said: “That is something that is going to be wrapped up into the fiscal statement, we wouldn’t comment ahead of any fiscal statements or budgets.
“But what I can say is he has shown through his record as chancellor that he will do what’s right and be compassionate towards the most vulnerable.”
Shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth accused Mr Sunak of not being on the side of pensioners struggling through the cost-of-living crisis in light of the Downing Street comments.
“Rishi Sunak stood on a manifesto in 2019 on a pledge to keep the triple lock. Now he’s threatening that promise to Britain’s retirees,” the Labour MP said.
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